Setting the Abbott Family's Reality Record Straight

edited December 2004 in The CenterTao Lounge
Not reading Chinese, I must approach the Tao Te Ching in translation. I'm curious what versions people here prefer.

I was first introduced to the Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell's version. He refrains from calling it a 'translation' because he worked from other, more literal English translations and freely reinterpreted as he saw fit. It's still the version I'm most familiar with.

I know that the Abbotts use the DC Lau translation. To me, the language of this version (and some others I've looked at) is not as satisfying. It seems important to me that the TTC functions as poetry as much as philosophy.

What thoughts do you have about literalism vs poetic license in translation? Those of you who have a preferred translation - what about it do you prefer?


  • edited October 2009
    The Abbott Family's Reality Record

    Update: This was written shortly after the Abbotts' episode of Trading Spouses aired. If you've not yet read The Abbott Family's Trading Spouses Page, that would be a better place to begin, rather than the posts below.

    There's been a gossip trail following the Abbott family around of late. Some of it petty, like we don't have TV and that we all sleep in the same bed. Some nasty, like the father, Carl, has 'brain washed' his kids and keeps them 'chained down'. Alas, once rumors get started, they take on a life of their own. Nevertheless, we'd like to set the record straight for those interested in fact over fiction...

    Principle Issues and Facts:
    And now, if that's not enough, here is an attempt to consolidate the experience into the broadest perspective possible...

    Why take a chance?
    After all, [chref=16]woe to him who wilfully innovates... [/chref]Well, we didn't want to at first; we expected to come off looking like just some 'nutty Californians'. Neither did we go looking for this 'opportunity'. 'Opportunity' came knocking on our virtual door, literally. We finally agreed on the chance that it would help promote family music. Our view being that the family that plays music together stays together - and families need all the help they can get these days.

    Moreover, we believed we would be represented as we really are. That meant lots of family music and down to earth living.

    To those who support us... and decry the misrepresentations made about our family and church. First, we are uplifted by your support. Many of those who make quick judgements are also likely people who laugh at epileptics or bullied their classmates, and pick on anyone they perceive as exposed and vulnerable. Why do they do this?

    I feel that Christ's comment, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" shines light on that question. Their unkind judgements are a reflection of the inner anguish they experience. Self hate begets hateful action. A tormented soul acts accordingly, some self destruct while others lash out. A happy soul likewise reflects their inner peace through their thoughts and actions. Another of Christ's observations, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." A tormented tree bears bitter fruit. They are helplessly expressing the anguish they feel through lashing out at us today, and perhaps you tomorrow. Our compassion is all that they deserve, for they are us... and we know not what we do.

    And finally, a puzzle...
    It puzzles us why there aren't more 'whistle blowers' among inside groups involved in underhanded activity. How can a morally decent person not object? Are all these people simply unethical $%##[email protected]!... No! That can't be; true 'scum' is rare. Most folks are decent. Something deeper must be at work. Is our culture's ethical rudder broken? Unlikely, for history records millennia of hapless human behavior.

    I'll speculate on the cause... Being animals, instinct lies at the foundation of what we do. It even drives the notion that we're 'above' animal instinct. Groups, even those involved in sleezy activity, are members of a team... a tribe. The urge to conform induced by the human tribal instinct is enough to account for everyone seeing a more 'rosy' picture of the group's activity than is warranted by the facts. Under such social pressure, the deep subconscious fear of banishment would inhibit team mates from seeing 'outside the box' of the team's 'rosy picture'.

    The testimonies of emotional anxiety felt by people before they 'blew the whistle', certainly support this hypothesis. Our impulse to conform is overwhelming.

    For related comments on the Abbott family, visit:
    The Abbott Family's Reality Page
  • edited December 1969
    Here is applicable legislation found in the California Civil Code regarding defamation of character and libel.

    44. Defamation is effected by either of the following:
    (a) Libel.
    (b) Slander.

    45. Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing,
    printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye,
    which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy,
    or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency
    to injure him in his occupation.

    45a. A libel which is defamatory of the plaintiff without the
    necessity of explanatory matter, such as an inducement, innuendo or
    other extrinsic fact, is said to be a libel on its face. Defamatory
    language not libelous on its face is not actionable unless the
    plaintiff alleges and proves that he has suffered special damage as a
    proximate result thereof. Special damage is defined in Section 48a
    of this code.

    46. Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally
    uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other
    means which:
    1. Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted,
    convicted, or punished for crime;
    2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious,
    contagious, or loathsome disease;
    3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office,
    profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general
    disqualification in those respects which the office or other
    occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with
    reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a
    natural tendency to lessen its profits;
    4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
    5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.

    48a. 1. In any action for damages for the publication of a libel in
    a newspaper, or of a slander by radio broadcast, plaintiff shall
    recover no more than special damages unless a correction be demanded
    and be not published or broadcast, as hereinafter provided.
    Plaintiff shall serve upon the publisher, at the place of publication
    or broadcaster at the place of broadcast, a written notice
    specifying the statements claimed to be libelous and demanding that
    the same be corrected. Said notice and demand must be served within
    20 days after knowledge of the publication or broadcast of the
    statements claimed to be libelous.
    2. If a correction be demanded within said period and be not
    published or broadcast in substantially as conspicuous a manner in
    said newspaper or on said broadcasting station as were the statements
    claimed to be libelous, in a regular issue thereof published or
    broadcast within three weeks after such service, plaintiff, if he
    pleads and proves such notice, demand and failure to correct, and if
    his cause of action be maintained, may recover general, special and
    exemplary damages; provided that no exemplary damages may be
    recovered unless the plaintiff shall prove that defendant made the
    publication or broadcast with actual malice and then only in the
    discretion of the court or jury, and actual malice shall not be
    inferred or presumed from the publication or broadcast.
    3. A correction published or broadcast in substantially as
    conspicuous a manner in said newspaper or on said broadcasting
    station as the statements claimed in the complaint to be libelous,
    prior to receipt of a demand therefor, shall be of the same force and
    effect as though such correction had been published or broadcast
    within three weeks after a demand therefor.
    4. As used herein, the terms "general damages," "special damages,"
    "exemplary damages" and "actual malice," are defined as follows:
    (a) "General damages" are damages for loss of reputation, shame,
    mortification and hurt feelings;
    (b) "Special damages" are all damages which plaintiff alleges and
    proves that he has suffered in respect to his property, business,
    trade, profession or occupation, including such amounts of money as
    the plaintiff alleges and proves he has expended as a result of the
    alleged libel, and no other;
    (c) "Exemplary damages" are damages which may in the discretion of
    the court or jury be recovered in addition to general and special
    damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing a defendant
    who has made the publication or broadcast with actual malice;
    (d) "Actual malice" is that state of mind arising from hatred or
    ill will toward the plaintiff; provided, however, that such a state
    of mind occasioned by a good faith belief on the part of the
    defendant in the truth of the libelous publication or broadcast at
    the time it is published or broadcast shall not constitute actual

    No contract would have a clause that would allow one party to violate State Law.
  • edited December 1969
    Carl, I had to smile when I read the statement at the end of your post which included the words "when keeping with the high ethical standards of our industry". I think that many of us agree that the television industry, along with many other entertainment industries, has only one purpose. To make themselves more money. The popularity of "reality tv" stemmed in part from the industry's revelation that they could make tv shows without having to hire and pay expensive stars. The money that they pay to participants is probably a pittance in comparison to what major stars receive for one hour of work. The crime in this (one of the crimes) is that actors can portray any character they are told to portray and at the very worst they may become typecast. Their own lives are not impugned by how they are represented on a tv show.

    While there are a number of people who have found your website and discovered what amazingly intelligent and sensitive people you really are, there are unfortunately many thousands of people who are content to believe that what they saw portrayed on Trading Spouses was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And while everyone is entitled to their own opinions, it is not right if those opinions unfairly describe real people as being something they are not.

    I am sure that your hands are legally bound and that there is probably nothing you can now do for yourselves other than to continue to show through this website who you really are, and to hope that the word will slowly spread from one person who visits this site to another who doesn't. I wonder, though, if something can't be done to prevent this from happening to other innocent families?
  • edited December 1969
    i too was on trading spouses and know exactly how you are feeling with the editing. i just want you to know that your family was very kind and loving and open to the new mom. what matters is your true family and friends they know you and they know the truth. i challenged trading spouses to now do it the truthful way, show the truth, i bet that would get just as many ratings. my new family and i got along so good that i kept saying this is going to be the most boring show no controversy, well i should have never said that. ha ha. that got me good, at one point i was a very hated women in america, which hurt me i cried for 2 weeks, however i came to realize my family and friends and people with sense know about editing, and not to be so quick to judge. you have a very nice family, and should be proud of yourselves, i feel the father came across as a very sweet tenderhearted loving man, and was very easy to get along with. well best of luck. just wanted to let you know there are others out there that really do know how your feeling. keep your chin up. a fellow trading spouses friend colleen verruto smiles and laughter always
  • edited April 2005
    Hi Colleen!,

    It's great to hear from you! Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. It's very helpful.

    We wish you and your family the best. Cheers, Leslie Abbott :D
  • edited December 1969
    Thank you Ron for that bit of legal research above :!:
    [cite] Ron Cotnam:[/cite]
    No contract would have a clause that would allow one party to violate State Law.

    That is what we think too. Frankly though, it?s hard to get worked up about this situation when I find this whole experience priceless and would not change a thing... even though I feel the TV producers should get informed consent from future families. We just did this thing as an adventure. It's turned out to provide more ?adventure? than expected... well actually, we didn't know what to expect. That's what makes something an adventure, eh?

    We would only resort to litigation if they tried to silence us. Our society has become so litigatious, I?d not like to add to that! What?s more, our crusade is to help people, especially families with young children, play music together. That?s more than enough to chew on.
  • edited December 1969
    Hey Guys, Im not here to start trouble or troll. Just found my way here somehow and would like to post my opinion. I only saw Part 2 of your 2 episodes. I think that you are correct about how they edited some film. I also feel that what you don't understand is that editing is ACCEPTED by the public. They do know the show is not 100% accurate. I also believe it is everyones right to make money whether its a large corp. or small retail business. I am trying not to generalize you at all b/c that is not fair. I do think that you are Elitists. Its not that i believe you are ignorant. I just believe that you think you are somehow more aware of reality than most people. Yes a lot of people are dumb and ignorant, but just as many know the same things you do. They just don't view them the same way. For example, You think that you are being slandered and portrayed out of context. well you're right! but we know! it might be reality but guess what. You said those things and Fox has the right to edited whichever way they want as long as they say it has been edited. This is not something USED in court or to specifically ruin your well being. They decided this was the best way to entertain people and they fully have that right to. YOu have the right to know a little about me now that I have formed an opinion on you. I am a 25 year old Jewish Republican from New Jersey. I spent most of my youth involved with music. I have toured the country to play music from NYC to Nashville TN. I have been to europe and most of north America.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Guest:[/cite]I do think that you are Elitists. Its not that i believe you are ignorant. I just believe that you think you are somehow more aware of reality than most people. Yes a lot of people are dumb and ignorant, but just as many know the same things you do. They just don't view them the same way.

    You're late... you missed the fun! We've moved on from the show, so have nothing more to say about it. Well... one thing: I'm a little surprised that you have no problem with how they denigrated our faith in as much as you are Jewish. Your people have suffered much in that regard.

    Now to the larger issue you invoke...

    My point, personally speaking, would be that WE ARE ALL DUMB AND IGNORANT. It just took me 60+ years to realize it. And each day that passes I realize it more deeply. It takes time to know that I don't know.

    I don't, however, hear many folks out there admitting their/our own ignorance. I see us little 'monkeys' as mostly just throwing rocks at each other. We rest secure in our elite 'goodness' and 'righteousness' and chastize dumb 'them' for causing the 'problem'. For example, Republicans blaming Democrats for 'the problem' (and visa versa, of course).

    Now, in pointing this out, am I being elitist? I suppose so for having the impertinence to open my mouth. Of that, I'm often guilty. Am I being more aware of reality than most people? Well, if you agree with my observation, you will say "Yes, and so am I". Now, if you disagree with my observation, and actually believe that Republicans are wiser than Democrats (for example), then you will think I am terribly 'out of touch' with the reality.

    :?: Reality sure is fluid, isn't it... and thus a little scary :?:
  • edited December 1969
    I am a friend of Barb Gates, and learned of your website through her. I'd never seen the TV show Trading Spouses before she was on and didn't see your episode. I applaud your courage to post the truth as you see it on this web site. Hopefully this is the beginning of public awakening to the monstrous lies on 'reality' TV. If you ever end up in court, Ms. Gates would make a terrific wittness. Meanwhile, you have all my best wishes for a speedy recovery from your trauma. That which does not break me makes me stronger. Peace be with you,
  • edited December 1969
    I am a foreigner.

    After reading your posts on Trading Spouses, is it correct to say, Fox actually discourages diversity?Taoism is something alien and therefore demonised?

    If Fox discourages diversity, then it destroys the core value of America.

    Would you say ever since Fox comes to be number one, America has become a less open society and together with Bush pre emptive wars, it is no coincidence that USA has recently become the most hated nation on Earth?
  • edited December 1969
    well, beating a dead horse by this point, but found a web blog from late December defending the Abbotts, from a guy in Seattle named Howlin Hobbit. He's a musician (but not a barefooter, strangely enuf, given his name). He saw the show and reads this site some, and pretty mcuh rehashes what many have said, but always nice to have one more on our side.
    Just always fun finding what comes up when I type 'abbott' into a search engine...
  • edited December 1969
    NY Times has a story in the Wed March 16 edition, article by Jacques Steinberg about the show 'wife swap' and how the families are griping about the editing, withholding facts, faked scenes, etc...Not sure if theres any way to get a link to it, but if you can find a copy it's worth reading, and it'll all sound sadly familiar. even worse than TS, actually...
  • edited December 1969
    Hi! I don't know if this is any consolation, but I saw the Abbotts the first time they were on Trading Spaces and got very curious about Taoism, so I looked them up online.

    The main reason I came to this website was to see what I could learn and am a little surprised to see so much space devoted to Trading Spouses. Its understandable that you feel the need to defend yourselves but at the same time try to keep in mind that your appearance may have offered "shokabuku" (I hope I'm spelling that right!) to a some people as well.

    I'll probably offer my .02 about the subject, but will spend more time actually talking about Tao. Looking forward to "meeting" everybody and hope folks can get some peace out of this soon.
  • edited December 1969
    If you're here because of "Trading Spouses", here's an article you may find interesting. Frankenbiting and other realites of "reality" TV are described. It felt good to see because people working on these shows came out from under the cloak to tell what really happens. Jubba Seyyid worked on our show and was in Nashville with me. Our show was on a year and a half ago. I feel a little funny posting now (the boys are probably rolling their eyes) but someone may find it educational or whatever. We are still often asked about the show.
    Check out the article.
  • edited December 1969
    The tough part about the position you are in is that you don't have a forum as broad as that show to pose your objections. But the truth will come out sooner or later. And it might be now.

    You know if we exposed my whole life to the nation, minus the creative editing which is a whole separate issue, there would be plenty of people objecting to this and that and making a case against the way I live my life. Who cares? I am happy. And if my children don't like the way I chose to raise them, they can go another way when they are adults.

    Those that can, do. Those that can't, criticize.
  • edited December 1969
    I just saw the show today and I could tell before I found this website that it was all patchworked together. Its disgusting what they do to innocent people. I too am homeschooled and I think that you are all brilliant, peacful people, and I never believed anything about brianwashing or restraining. Best of luck.
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